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University of Chester news

The latest study and research news from the University of Chester

July 2012

May 2012

March 2012

January 2012

Chester Professor helps ensure ancient text is found in translation

A lecturer at the University of Chester has been asked to assist with an interesting project, analysing of a set of Arabic leather ‘folios’ which were recently presented to the Museum of Liverpool.

The documents were taken into the Museum by a pair of local brothers from the city’s Yemeni community, who were hoping to identify the ancient text in which they were written.

Dr Mohammad Seddon, a Theology and Religious Studies Lecturer at the University, was commissioned – along with Lancaster University Professor Emeritus, David Waines – to help study the contents and hopefully shed some light on their origins.

Bill Longshaw, Curator of Social History at the Museum of Liverpool, said: ‘Dr Seddon was a great help to the Museum of Liverpool, as he is not only a renowned expert on the Yemen, but also has a wide circle of academic contacts. He brought an open, friendly and authoritative approach to the process of uncovering the story of the scrolls and this helped to put everybody at ease.’

After studying the documents, the professors were able to identify that the text was, in fact, a version of Kufic – the oldest handwritten form of Arabic. While they displayed verses from the Qu’ran, the style in which they were written did not match the standard version of the language. This suggested they could potentially pre-date many of the existing versions of the religious script. As a result, they have been passed on to the British Library for further examination.

Dr Seddon said: ‘Staff at the Museum of Liverpool are currently in contact with a colleague of mine based at the British Library in order to undertake further tests and examinations of the folios.

‘Whatever the outcome of the tests, the Museum of Liverpool team feel that these documents still have a local history interest and would be keen to use them in displays showing the deep-rooted diversity of the city, or in any future display on the Yemeni community in Liverpool.’

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New Business Master’s programme at the University of Chester

In the current climate of financial instability, many businesses are facing a challenge to recruit the best possible graduates for their field, while keeping a limit on their own resources.

The University of Chester is helping to address this issue through its new Chester Business Master’s programme (CBM), which aims to recruit the most talented graduates. Unlike many conventional business programmes, taught primarily in the lecture theatre, the CBM consists of intensive business skills training and two extended paid placements, during which students complete hands-on consultancy projects for host companies.

The programme has been developed by Professor Danny Moss and his colleagues in the faculty of Business, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. It utilises the University’s unique Work Based and Integrative Studies (WBIS) scheme, which enables students and practitioners to gain hands-on experience whilst studying. The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) has endorsed the value of such experience-based programmes, pointing to research that consistently shows that employers want a battery of practical skills, and that relevant work experience is one of the most important value added activities to differentiate applicants.

Many local North West businesses have already endorsed the CBM programme. Robert Davis, Group CEO of EA Technology Limited and founding member of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is particularly keen to participate.

He said: ‘Employers will welcome the new programme. It gives us the ability to trial graduates in real life scenarios, giving them the chance to prove themselves and showcase their skills, while making a positive contribution to host organisations. It also meets one of the major strategic objectives of the LEP, as it is a perfect opportunity to develop and attract enterprising, skilled and productive young people into our region, producing fresh ideas, modern business techniques and advanced technological skills.’

Given the increasing cost of recruitment, employers will also benefit from what could be viewed as a ‘bespoke graduate service’. The CBM team will filter, train and match student skills to projects, as well as providing a professional mentor, co-ordinator and academic support team throughout project placements. The graduate will have the opportunity to work in two different industries and two different sizes/structures, allowing them to gain valuable insights into the type of organisation for which that they might like to work.

With only 12–15 places available on this first year of the programme, the CBM team is looking for the most talented graduates from across the North West region. As Professor Moss commented: ‘We are delighted with the initial response from the regional business community, now we are living up to our promise to recruit and train a highly talented crop of graduates and the process starts with a rigorous assessment process.’

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Chester students make a splash for charity

Students from the University of Chester will be diving in at the deep end, as they raise money to help them embark on a unique trip.

On 14 March, members of the Helping Kenya project will be putting on a sponsored swim, which will see a team of volunteers take part in a continuous relay lasting two hours and covering a distance of 25 miles.

The event has been put together to help a group of students raise funds for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will see them travel to Africa, representing both the University and the city with their efforts. As a result, Chester’s Lord Mayor Cllr Eleanor Johnson will be attending to support the cause and award medals, provided by event sponsor, Olympic Trophies of Chester, to successful swimmers.

The campaign has been inspired by the University’s Work-Based Learning programme, which arranges for students to spend time in Kenya – providing assistance in areas such as health issues, food security and education.

Volunteers, after going through an orientation, will have to encounter problems experienced by the local population, such as a lack of sustainable food and epidemic levels of HIV and AIDS.

They will also need to fund the trip themselves, so Helping Kenya was set up by Religious Studies student Paul Carter from Birkenhead not only to help the students generate funds for their trip, but also to help raise awareness about the kind of issues they will be tackling once out there.

Paul said: ‘We hope to make these kind of events a permanent part of the University. Rather than just a single fundraiser to help one group of students, I’d like this to become part of the University’s many official clubs and societies. In future, we want to continue providing something for Kenyans, our students and the local community.’

The event is also being supported by the University of Chester swim team, as one of their own members will also be taking the trip to Kenya.

Team captain, Laura Wade, said: ‘The Helping Kenya Campaign is a wonderful cause where the students at the University of Chester can make a real difference. Furthermore, we have one of our own swimmers going to Kenya to assist in the various humanitarian aid efforts and this is our way to contribute and get fully involved in supporting the local and wider community.’

Paul added: ‘Personally, I am a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints but I love that people of many different faiths and backgrounds are all coming together for a common goal.’

Please visit www.helpingkenya.org for more information, or to make a donation.

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New Year sees fresh start for University of Chester’s ‘Veg Out’ scheme

A student-led scheme that provides seasonal vegetables to students and staff at the University of Chester has grown to be a huge success.

(l to r) Siobhan Ford, James Taylor, Jade Hooper (Deputy VegOut Co-ordinator), Jenni Moss (VegOut Co-ordinator), Natasha Gibbins, Tilly Martin, Rebecca GascheFollowing its inception in January 2011 – including recognition through the National Union of Students Community Award won by the Chester Students’ Union – the Veg Out scheme has been re-launched for 2012.

Veg Out was set up by Jenni Moss to provide local, seasonal vegetables at affordable prices to staff and students, reduce food waste which is a huge problem in the UK, increase awareness of seasonality while supporting local suppliers and the local economy and to reduce food miles – the distance food travels from production to consumer.

Jenni said: ‘As it’s a not-for-profit scheme, the bags of vegetables and boxes of eggs are very near to cost price. We sell boxes of six large, free-range eggs from a farm in north Wales for £1 and vegetable bags containing over 3kg of seasonal vegetables also from local suppliers, for just £3.50.

‘Some weeks we have sold 50 to 60 bags of veg and the same numbers of boxes of eggs.’

Jenni, a Human Nutrition student, originally created Veg Out through a passion for local seasonal food and her involvement in a University forum.

She explained: ‘In my role as the student representative for the “Food4Life” committee, I was able to express my wish to start up a veg bag scheme in the University. I was also the Chair of the People and Planet Society who encourage food co-ops. However, I felt a vegetable scheme would be more plausible as it wouldn’t require a permanent space to store dried foods. I was also keen to set up a volunteering opportunity for Nutrition and Dietetics students.’

The new academic year meant that new volunteers, organisation and effort were needed and, thanks to the endeavour of a number of students, the scheme has now been able to continue and reach its one-year anniversary, with the hope that it will continue on for much longer.
Jenni is currently working with the Students Union at Warrington Campus to roll the scheme out there in the coming weeks.

Jenni said: ‘I hope the scheme will continue after I complete my degree in June of this year, maintaining valuable links with the local community and providing a useful volunteering and educational opportunity for students at the University of Chester.’

She also pointed out that those involved not only help students, staff and the environment, they also help themselves, adding: ‘Volunteers develop skills in communication, time-management, teamwork, leadership and organisation.’

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